A tentative ceasefire agreement has been drawn up between the warring parties in Yemen’s long-running civil war, the European Council on Foreign Relations reports. Currently, Saudi Arabia has sent a diplomatic delegation to Yemen’s capital Sana’a for talks with the Houthi rebel movement that is geared towards reaching a new and permanent ceasefire. BBC News reports that additionally, there is a delegation from Oman stationed in the Yemeni capital for the ongoing negotiations. The United Nations special envoy for Yemen estimates that the prospects of this renewed truce in Yemen has grown in recent months, according to Al Jazeera. This comes at a point of increasing domestic and international diplomatic activity to end the country’s eight-year conflict before the current truce ends.
The history of the conflict dates back to 2014 and has led to the death of over 200,000 people according to BBC News. The capital Sana’a has been controlled by the Houthi rebels since 2015 when they drove out the Yemeni government, which prompted the entrance of the Saudi-led coalition to the war soon after. As CNN reports, in the eight years since they intervened, the coalition has been unable to dislodge the Houthi rebels from their holdings despite an intense air campaign. This has prompted the Houthi rebels to target Saudi cities and oil fields with hundreds of rocket strikes.
CNN furthers that this war has caused one of the world’s most catastrophic humanitarian crises in recent memory, leaving thousands dead and worsening conditions enough that certain regions of the nation have fallen into famine. BBC News adds to this by stating that close to 80 percent of the population relies on international aid with the current economic conditions. Thus, these ongoing negotiations are seen as pivotal to relieving the current humanitarian crisis.
From what has been gleaned there has been significant progress in the negotiations as there was a three-day prisoner swap launched with the release of nearly 900 detainees from both sides, according to CNN. BBC News reported on a leaked photo that showed Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi shaking the hand of an unknown Saudi official. Furthermore, Hans Grundberg, the UN special envoy to Yemen gave a briefing to the UN Security Council on the current situation. Al Jazeera reports that Grundberg said that there had been “a potential step change” in the path of conflict but the situation itself still remains “complex and fluid”.
Grundberg, a former Swedish diplomat, has served in the position since 2021 and has continually pushed the warring sides to work towards a common vision to restore peace in the world’s most isolated Arab nation. There has not been an extension of the previous truce, but violence between the groups has remained low-level. Grundberg states, “The overall military situation in Yemen has remained stable, and there has been no major escalation nor changes in the disposition on the front lines,” according to Al Jazeera.
It is clear that Saudi Arabia has been making efforts recently to extend olive branches to their regional rivals. According to The Intercept, the Saudis have reportedly agreed to significantly more concessions than were on offer in mid-February after brokering a deal with Iran with the support of the Chinese government. This information comes from a leaked Pentagon document which details that a direct path is possible given the current diplomatic situation which was previously unreachable in the past.
There are reports that a deal could be signed by the end of the month although public statements by officials have not been made, according to BBC News. The terms have not been made public either, but reports have stated the agreement’s terms focus on commitments to pay the wages of public employees, to reopen all ports and airports, and more arduous goals that have been non-starters in the past such as a political transition, the withdrawal of foreign forces, and efforts to rebuild the nation. The triumph of diplomacy in this conflict can potentially herald a positive vision for the Middle East, where peace and economic prosperity has been sparse in recent decades.